Friday 18 August 2017

The Corner Gas Episode Guides - Documenting Corner Gas

There have been many books written that have been deemed classics of the literary form. The works of Shakespeare, Catcher in the Rye author and Dirty Jokes and Beer By Drew Carey. These all have value and merit in that they all contain words, some of them large and clever, but they are all unified by one overwhelming oversight that could wash all the awards and praise heaped upon them away with one metaphorical Johnsons Baby Wipe. None of the so called masters of the form had the forethought to include a Corner Gas episode guide within their pages!

Perhaps, this is because the task is one of considerable responsibility. How do you capture such a fantastical oeuvre of work within your oeuvre of work? I would take a brave person of incredible skill, pluck and stamina to take on such a Herculean task. Luckily such a person exists.


Michele Sponagle has written what are the essential guides to the making of Corner Gas. Michele is an extremely accomplished writer, editor and author. She has contributed to many magazines and worked on projects for publishers and companies covering a wide range of subjects. The wealth of her experience is particularly evident in the Corner Gas guides.

 Available in two volumes, "Tales From Dog River" (TFDR) covers seasons one to three and "Dog River Confidential" (DRC) continues from season four to season six. As I have mentioned before, I am aware that when I heap praise on Corner Gas related items on my site that it could be construed by the reader as being somewhat redundant. No point in having a fan site and say your muse is a crappy one! However, in my geeky lifetime I have read many episode guides and making of tome's and I have to say the Corner Gas books are by far two of the best I have ever read (another good one is The Mystery Science Theatre 3000 Colossal Episode Guide - but let their fan site inform you about that one).

The amount of detail Michele has included is fantastic. Most episode guides are glorified lists. Titles of episodes, with a few scant plot details, air dates and cast and crew members included in their pages. Such books are often no more than expensive photo albums, containing more to look at than read. TFDR and DRC are chock full of behind the scenes details, interviews and photo's covering every aspect of the show. There are even recipes for Chilli Cheese Dog's and The Ruby's Apple Pie!

Each book starts with a foreword by Brent Butt, both of which are very enjoyable, however Michele is careful not to devote the book to the stars of the show. There is plenty of information about the main cast, particularly in TFDR, however every man and his dog (river) are included here which really helps create a rounded picture of the amount of people involved and the effort that goes into the creation of every episode of Corner Gas. There are interviews and thoughts from conceivably every person of interest involved in the making of the show, which is a lovely touch. The episode section of each book is contained in the middle of the volume, book-ended by all the meaty details of the behind the scenes action. Each episode listing includes a plot synopsis and episode specific behind the scenes details and also includes quotes, snippets of dialogue and cast and crew anecdotes. We are even given a count of how many times we hear the word Jackass in that broadcast and how many cups of coffee are consumed! If this is not enough also included in both books are resource guides with website addresses for other places to look for more Corner Gas related information. If we are lucky enough that Michele is tasked with writing a new book to cover Corner Gas Animated perhaps may be included in this wonderful little section (nudge, nudge, wink, wink #cheekypoorlyvailedrequest !)

Some lucky ducks having their episode guides signed by Michele and Brent!
The only problem I have with these magnificent books is, how in the blue blazes am I going to be able to top them here on my site. What in fact are blazes, how are they blue and why is importance heaped on them so?

Well the simple answer is, I'm not going to attempt it. You are! I am going add a new page with a list of episodes in each season so you have a guide to the content of all six seasons. In essence a tick list so you can make sure you have not missed an episode of Corner Gas where ever, or however you choose to watch it. If the broadcasting of sit coms where you are is the same as we get here in England, episodes are vary rarely shown in order. It is rarer still for a season of a show to be shown
in it's entirety. So our guide will help you keep track of what you have and haven't seen.

Here is where you come in. I would like readers to submit to me their favourite episodes. Let me know which you like and why, go into as much or as little detail as you like. Also include your star rating for the episode, out of five. I say stars so you know what I am on about - I will however be using a gas pump rating system which works the same as stars ...only the stars are pumps, it fit's my remit! I know, creative genius! Try and be as honest as you can, even the greatest show can't have all five star episodes. Why not let me know if there is an episode you think isn't quite so hot as others and give that a rating.

Any episode recommended by you the reader will then be reviewed in full by myself and I will add your "pump" rating to the episodes listing in the episode guide along with a snippet of your own review. I will include your name and rough area in the world that you come from unless you say not to, none of your other details will be given. Eventually we should have a handy dandy one stop guide to which episodes are the true greats and I will one day write up some sort of top ten as voted for by the public.

Whilst that get's up to speed, I highly recommend buying Tales From Dog River and Dog River Confidential as the perfect resource for all things Corner Gas. For our English audience I have included links to the Amazon listings for both books in their cover pictures above. I am sure the rest of the world can pick them up at all good bookshops, and some of the bad ones too.

Once you have the books don't stop coming here for all the latest news and shenanigans - don't want to write myself out of a job or anything!

Wednesday 2 August 2017

Corner Gas and Me - A Personal Journey

I will quite readily admit to flying the flag for geekiness. I am a movie buff, I collect comics, I love all areas of comedy, I play blues guitar and I collect autographs. I have a lot of passions and I have explored them all in depth and some almost became professions. I worked the comedy circuit in and around London and was starting to get the hang of it until I had to quit in favour of paying bills regularly. I have played my guitar all over the world and was very close to getting a management contract until I had to quit.... in favour of paying bills regularly. I have, and still do enjoy all my dabbling in these areas but this is the first time I have started a fan site and it feels odd to me. This is mainly because some feedback I have had assumes that I must live, eat and sleep Corner Gas. Truth is I don't, and I hope this doesn't upset some of the few readers I have garnered thus far. The general consensus is that to run a web site like this you have to be one of those slightly special, obsessed types. I have had messages from people that assume I have gone all "One Hour Photo" and have a house covered floor to ceiling with screen shots of characters from the show as I sit in a room slowly rocking back and forth in front of television with Season 4 permanently playing on a loop.

I love Corner Gas. It is one of my all time favourite shows.There are a number of other t.v comedies, situation or otherwise that I adore. Spike Milligan's Q series, The Young Ones, The Drew Carey Show, Open All Hours and Porridge. All shows I can watch over and over again and find something new every time. Some I can even quote and they are all up there in my little black book of t.v comedy greatness. However, I never felt the need to start a website about any of these great series. So why Corner Gas?

There are a couple of shows that are close to my heart for a different reason, one that is more emotional. Corner Gas is one of them.

Briefly, outside of Corner Gas, the tip top of my pile are "Bottom" starring the sublime comic talents of Ade Edmundson and the late great Rik Mayall. This is a show I loved from day one but all the more so now as it is a programme that helped bring myself and my wife together and the one show she can out quote me on every time. When we first met we would sit and watch episodes, get drunk and do bad impressions of Rik and Ade, and laugh until someone had to run to the toilet for a wee.

 Then there is Married...with Children, fairly base, much like Bottom, but anarchic and game changing for it's time, but always funny mainly due to it's amazing cast. I love this show because it was my dad's favourite. He worshipped at the temple of Al Bundy and tried his best to relate to his family based life pressures and would rib my mum something awful telling her that he knew exactly how Al felt. In reality his life was nothing at all like Mr. Bundy's, far from it, but my dad always found humour in pretending he was hard done by, as do I on occasion. Every time I watch Married, I think of my dad howling at poor down trodden Al, his shoulders jiggling up and down in mirth as Al's put upon head sunk deeper into his own chest. That thought makes me very happy.

My Dad, indirectly, is also the reason why I fell in love with Dog River and it's residents. Strap yourselves in, here comes the sad bit.

On June 28th 2013 my father died very suddenly from a massive stroke. As far as we can tell he was sitting in his chair, watching a movie, got up to turn everything off and collapsed. I lost the person I was closest to, my best friend, in the blink of an eye. This was just the start of four years from hell, my wife and I lost family members and dear friends, one after the other and had to deal with the cruelness of Cancer and Dementia. Along with other worries, we really felt at one point we were never going to see the end of it. It was particularly hard to deal with. These events really bring your own mortality in perspective and have also sharpened an awareness in me for the suffering of others that was never there before. I know there are hundreds upon thousands of people out there that have been through similar periods of stress and my heart goes out to them all.

I was struggling to watch movies and t.v. shows through out this period. It was my favourite thing to do but something I did with or talked about almost exclusively with my Dad. We were always talking movies my whole lifetime. There are very few people that I know that share my love of film to the same degree. I had no one to share them with any more so I felt there was no point in watching, it just made me sad. I cried watching Guardians of the Galaxy because I enjoyed it so much, but not tears of joy, I just wanted to be able to tell my Dad about it. Then I found Corner Gas, by accident - but you know that because you have read all my other posts...haven't you? I watched a few episodes and in some respect because I knew it was something my dad wouldn't like. Dad never really took to situation comedy, outside of Married...with Children, a show which probably tickled the naughty side of his funny bone. I didn't expect to like it much myself. I could watch it because I wouldn't need to speak to anyone about how good it is. Right?

Corner Gas, taught me how to laugh again, and laugh I did. Laughed hard, for the first time in a long time, and it felt so good. I started to dig into as many episodes as fast as Amazon could ship them to me and whilst waiting for the next DVD set to drop onto my door mat I researched the show on line to find out what I could about the cast and crew. To my surprise this wasn't as straight forward as I expected. Considering that this was Canada's biggest comedy show I was dredging the internet for, it didn't seem to have much of a web presence. Even the official website doesn't hold many golden nuggets of info for a burgeoning fan (no offence if anyone involved with the site is reading). Which got me to thinking, perhaps I could fill the void with a little fan site. All those other great shows have a dozen sites tracking all the minutiae of their being, so why not the mighty Corner Gas? I had just started my other site Blog Paper so I figured I could run both sites together and they would create traffic for each other and I would eventually become one of those internet millionaires you hear about and be able to buy myself a solid gold cheese grater and have my socks made out of old William Shatner toupee's. Time and responsibility said otherwise and I never got round to doing anything about it.

Skip forward to September 2016 and the after effects of all the issues that my family, along with other issues that had surfaced in my professional life, were starting to take their toll. I was on my way to being rather ill. My ever amazing wife arranged for me to visit Vancouver, with the excuse of getting to see Brent Butt perform live as the perfect reason to go. The real reason for the trip was to try and help me chill out, get things straight, figure out how I was going to get myself together before I fell ill as I have done in the past. I was travelling across the globe to try and push the reset button.

And it worked. A week with pretty much nothing to worry about, other than what the hell a Poutine was, did the trick. I realised I needed a permanent distraction from the daily circus that goes on my head and the best way to do that was write. I love to write, always have, especially in my stand up days. I was a bad joke factory back then. So I went back to Blog Paper, set it up properly and wrote a little post about Corner Gas which got a great response. So I revisited the idea of the fan site and here we are. I am more focused and things are feeling much better.

So a personal need and the fact that there was just nothing else out there covering the show is why this site came to be. Corner Gas is a growing part of my life because of this, which is an amazingly enjoyable thing to see happen. I didn't expect the response to be so great so the time I am spending in the company of the show and the amount work I am doing is increasing daily. I love every minute of it. I like to think my Dad would be nodding his head in approval reading anything I have written. Even though I am positive he wouldn' t have watched the show.

My Dad developed my sense of humour for me as soon as I was old enough to appreciate the likes of Spike Milligan and The Goons. He played old reel to reel tapes of episodes of that old radio show he had recorded back in the '50's. I got the comedy bug from then on and nurtured the development of it myself over the following years searching out new comedians, shows and movies which eventually lead me to Corner Gas. That's not full circle I realise, there is plenty more out there for me to discover, however Dog River seems like a nice place to hang around for a little while and have a giggle. I hope you join me....I'm not mad......honest.

For help and advice for those who have been affected by someone suffering a stroke please visit these wonderful website which are full of important information -

U.K. - The Stroke Association -
Canada - The Canadian Partnership for Stroke Recovery -
U.S.A. - The National Stroke Association -